Published on: 23 August 2023

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has issued a warning that antisocial behaviour will not be tolerated on any of its sites.

The Trust is working with Northumbria Police to make sure that action is taken against anyone doing so.

This crackdown follows a recent spate of antisocial behaviour at Sunderland Royal Hospital. This has been fuelled by a small number of patients and visitors drinking alcohol or taking drugs within the hospital site.

PC Richard Sawyers, security officer Stephen Nwokorie and Head of Nursing Barbara Goodfellow outside Sunderland Royal Hospital..jpg

PC Richard Sawyers, security officer Stephen Nwokorie and Head of Nursing Barbara Goodfellow outside Sunderland Royal Hospital.

The hospital is subject to a Public Spaces Protection Order. This means that people are not allowed to drink alcohol in the hospital grounds.

Working with the neighbourhood policing team, the Trust is taking a much firmer stance to stop this behaviour. Some of these actions include:

  • Additional police presence
  • More security officers patrolling the site at key times
  • Extra CCTV and signage
  • Refusing to treat anyone who is abusive or behaving in an antisocial manner, unless it is a life-threatening emergency
  • Working with local businesses to stop the sale of alcohol to hospital patients and those clearly under the influence of alcohol

The police has powers to issue fixed penalty fines to anyone drinking within hospital grounds.

Officers can also arrest and prosecute anyone believed to be involved in criminal activity, including possession or supply of drugs and abusive behaviour.

Dr Sean Fenwick, Deputy Chief Executive at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said:

"It’s really sad that we’ve had to put these further actions in place due to the behaviour of a very small minority of people.

"The message is very clear. We will not accept or tolerate antisocial behaviour on any of our hospital or community sites.

"Anyone considering bringing drugs or alcohol on our sites should think again.

"We will take action, you will be removed and in some cases we will refuse to give you treatment. 

"Stamping out this kind of behaviour is something we are committed to tackling head on.

"Working with the police and other partners we will find out who is responsible and we will take action against them. In the most serious circumstances this includes arrest and prosecution.

"Our staff don’t come to work to face abuse. They are here to help and care for people.

"To be subject to verbal and physical abuse is just completely unacceptable.

"It isn’t something any of us would tolerate against our own family and friends and we certainly will not stand for it happening to our staff, patients or visitors."

Constable Richard Sawyers from Northumbria Police’s Neighbourhood Policing Team added:

"We are aware of concerns raised around recent antisocial behaviour at hospital sites and recognise the adverse impact the minority can have on staff and the wider public.
"Our Blue Light colleagues come to work each day to protect their communities and to help people and do not deserve to face hostility or violence when trying to do their job.
"This behaviour simply won’t be tolerated, and we will take robust action against anyone found to have been involved in recent incidents.
"We also acknowledge that in some cases alcohol and drugs has been a factor in recent pockets of disorder.

"As a Force, we work closely with all of our licensed premises to ensure they offer a safe environment for the public, abide by the law and uphold their licensing conditions.
“Where they fall short, we will look to consider alongside our partners against businesses who knowingly sell alcohol to hospital patients who are already under the influence or supplying that alcohol to vulnerable people.

"This could include having their licence to sell alcohol formally reviewed or enforcement action taken.
"Enquiries are ongoing into the reports and anyone who has information is asked to report it to police. In an emergency or where a crime is taking place, always dial 999."